Table tennis: Feng Tianwei falls at first hurdle

World No. 1 Chen avenges 4-0 sweep last time out, Taiwanese Lin keeps up fine run

Feng Tianwei had a tough time against Chen Meng in the T2 Diamond Singapore but thanked fans at Our Tampines Hub for their support. She feels her opponent analysed their previous match and made service changes.
Feng Tianwei had a tough time against Chen Meng in the T2 Diamond Singapore but thanked fans at Our Tampines Hub for their support. She feels her opponent analysed their previous match and made service changes. PHOTO: T2 DIAMOND

Women's world No. 1 paddler Chen Meng of China showed no mercy in overpowering home favourite Feng Tianwei 11-4, 11-5, 11-7, 11-3 at last night's Seamaster T2 Diamond Singapore.

The whitewash was sweet revenge for the 25-year-old, who conceded just 19 points at Our Tampines Hub, one fewer than the 20 she mustered when she was stunned 4-0 by Feng at the German Open last month. She now leads their head-to-head 7-1.

Chen, who will meet South Korea's world No. 20 Jeon Ji-hee in today's quarter-finals, said: "At the German Open, I made many unforced errors and was often on the back foot.

"Tonight, I managed to reduce the errors and was more proactive.

"We know each other's playing styles very well, so I focused more on getting my first three strokes right. The tactics and execution today were very good."

World No. 9 Feng has returned to the top 10 for the first time since June 2018, as she plots one last hurrah at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

After struggling against Chinese and Japanese opponents in previous years, she achieved significant breakthroughs and Chen was her biggest scalp of late.

  • 2x

  • Unforced errors by Feng Tianwei, 40, compared to the 20 by Chen Meng as she recovers from flu and jet lag.

The 33-year-old is Singapore's most-bemedalled Olympian with one silver and two bronzes and claimed a bronze medal at the ITTF Women's World Cup last month.

However, she revealed she was still recovering from flu and jet lag from last week's Austrian Open. Fatally, she made a whopping 40 unforced errors to Chen's 20.

She said: "She must have analysed her loss to me, as she made changes to her service and I struggled with my receiving.

"Overall, she is the stronger player and I approached this game with a learning attitude.

"I must thank the fans for their support. I heard their cheers, and I appreciate them.

"I will take some time to rest before heading to the Philippines for the SEA Games, where I hope to bring more glory to Singapore."

The other women's quarter-finals will see two all-Chinese clashes - Sun Yingsha-Ding Ning and Chen Xintong-Wang Manyu - while the Japanese duo Mima Ito and Hitomi Sato square off.

In the men's division, 18-year-old Taiwanese Lin Yun-ju's meteoric rise continues as he outpointed South Korea's world No. 14 Jang Woo-jin 10-11, 11-7, 10-11, 5-3, 5-3, 5-4 in a nail-biter yesterday.

While Lin, the T2 Diamond Malaysia winner, wasted seven game points, he stuck with his aggressive game and will meet German world No. 16 Patrick Franziska in the last eight of the US$500,000 (S$681,750) tournament.

The soft-spoken Lin, who has improved from No. 134 in January 2018 to No. 10, said: "When I was trailing, I didn't overthink things and just played my normal game.

"Of course, it would be better if I can win earlier, but any win is good. With every big win, expectations and pressures mount, but I'm trying to get used to it and not think too much."

The other quarter-finals see an all-Japanese showdown between Koki Niwa and Tomokazu Harimoto, while China's Xu Xin faces South Korean Jeoung Young-sik, and Japan's Jun Mizutani meets China's Lin Gaoyuan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2019, with the headline 'Feng falls at first hurdle'. Print Edition | Subscribe